July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 15 September 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470915-JWC-TC-01; CL 22: 72-74


Wednesday [15 September 1847]

Now is not this really to bad? You said in that scrap of a note you would write next day; and here is the second day and no letter yet!— I cannot fancy “drinking new milk under various forms” such hard work, but that you might find a vacant hour to tell me a little more of your history since we parted at Leeds! Expecting the Postman is the sole interest of my day, for I can expect nobody else, nobody else knowing I am come—and he goes past just as if the house were shut up!— I have not felt the solitude at all oppressive as yet; indeed if I had had plenty of letters, I should have ‘enjoyed’ it rather than otherwise. But except on Monday the Postman has not once called. On Monday besides your morsel of a note there were three letters from Barnsley—that gave me the feeling of being “in a madhouse”— Both Betsey—that is, Mrs Paulet, and Geraldine had streamed off on the Friday to see me; found themselves to their mutual astonishment sitting face to face in the omnibus; and had the mortification to arrive just three hours too late! To neither of them had it ever occurred that there was “a certain” awkwardness in making their first visit to Mrs Newton, after she had been ten years Nodes's wife, entirely for the sake of another person. The very natural exclamation she received them with, “she is gone! brought them, especially Mrs Paulet, to a due sense of this, and there they were, feeling, they said as foolish as vexed. and, what was more to the purpose, determined to behave differently to Nodes's wife in future; now that they saw how thoroughly they had mistaken her, and that she was in fact “too good for him.” All this was told with such distracted-looking hurry and flurry—that I had to walk up and down the room for half an hour after to calm my mind.

It may do Mrs Paulet much good to see her sister-in laws management of her house and children—and Geraldine will be none the worse to observe how interesting and loveable a woman may be, without having ever read a line of George Sand or dreamt of anything of the sort.

Nodes took me all thro his factory, and gave me a beautiful cover for our stair-carpets—he also talked enthusiastic things about wishing “to dress Carlyle in Barnsley drills next summer.” His House indicating rather limited means, and himself rather limited brains; my surprise was great to find HIS Factory the most perfect thing of the sort I had yet seen— Not so large as Marshall's of course;1 in Marshalls largest room there were seven hundred girls in Nodes's only two hundred—but in respect of every thing else, Nodes's was infinitely superior infinitely better ventilated, better lighted, better cleaned, and better peopled—there were many men employed as well as women, and I did not see one bad or dirty human-being in the place—not one girl, that, so far as outside went, would not have made a perfectly respectable servant, every one of them seemed personally known to him, and pleased to get a word from him— The ventilation is effected by holes all round the roof—and the lighting is his own contrivance— Design of the roof and lighting for TC's attic study the roof is made with iron bars, thus. the short sides of the triangle all windows.— But I suppose you have had enough of Mills—

I have seen John just twice—he came on Sunday forenoon—for ten minutes! “had a cold”—“perhaps had better go home and take care of it”— On Monday, in case of his not being able to come, I called for him, he walked home with me thro' the rain, had a tumbler of punch with me, and then “had to take the road again”— When he speaks of his Dante—and he speaks of little else—his countenance assumes a sort of august expression that is almost imposing. Clearly, he is looking forward to “a glancing future of reputation ohne Geld [without money]” by means of this translation.

I have spoken to a Painter about the front of the house, and he promised to bring me an estimate this morning—but has “failed in his truth”2—like some others—I have an immensity of sewing on hands—am taking the front room bed-curtains in pieces that they may be cleaned and new-lined for Emerson. They were quite abominably dirty. Two gowns are undergoing the same process—I dont weary the least in the world, and if I did “one has always ones kitten left”—I got her home quite safely and she continues to amuse me much by her tigerish ways— The other cat had developed herself into such a consumate thief that Anne declared there “was no longer any living beside her.” Tonight ‘James’3 is to take her (the black cat) away to his slaughter-house—not to be slaughtered—that were too great a sacrifice to the new favorite—but to kill the mice he is overrun with—

I have no news except that the Omnibuses now take one to Charing cross for threepence—if that dont gladden your heart “it must be cold indeed”! I went in one yesterday to the circus,4 then walked to the top of Regent Street for another straw bonnet and all the way home I saw nobody I had ever set eyes on before except the straw bonnet-women—kindest love to them all—

When no letter came this morning either at nine or eleven (for your last came at eleven) I vowed I would not write to you for a week—then I relented and resolved to write just a dozen lines of protest—and there I have written a tolerably long letter—

And now I shall go for a long walk thro' the vacant streets—and see whether I can sleep any better at night.

All good be with you

Ever yours /